Our team often reflects on how grateful we are to be a part of the OCF Studio to School Initiative, especially the learning community. Through all of months of work, moments of head scratching and mind bending, we all come back to feeling only gratitude.
The contributors to this reflection are Hood River Middle School principal, Brent Emmons, and music teacher, Kevin Lane.
How has the learning community impacted your project, organization, school, or community (your choice)? How do you think it might shape your work going forward?
~Hood River Middle School principal, Brent Emmons
One of the really difficult aspects of being based in a school is the sad reality that we often has a myopic view of our situation and tend to reinvent the wheel for everything. In general, in the public school system, we have poor communication outside of our school districts. OCF has intentionally created a learning community that opened my eyes to different approaches to problem solving, because OCF created the conditions where I could spend quality time discussing our challenges with other principals. While we often face problems within our schools, there are myriad ways of solving them. Being the only principal in my school, I work in relative isolation, just by nature of the job. This learning community allowed me to see some very inspiring and non-conventional ways of doing things within the school system. For example, learning how the Sisters Folk Festival integrates their work so intentionally into the Americana Project has impressed me and helped our team develop the Music Festival of the Gorge with a very clear connection to the experience students have in the schools. Moving forward, we will continue to reach out to them. There is so much comfort in knowing they are there to help us as we learn and grow.
What has been the most useful aspect for you? Is there a particular topic, event, or activity from a previous meeting or rendezvous that stands out to you as especially impactful?
~Hood River Middle School Music Teacher, Kevin Lane
At the Pendleton Rendezvous, there was a Question and Answer session with students from past and present Pendleton music programs. Listening to those students speak about their personal experiences as they participated and witnessed the arts in action, was incredibly inspiring for me as a teacher. Hearing them describe how empowered they were to actually have the ability to contribute to the music scene of Pendleton made me think of my work differently. My mind went straight to my own students and their experiences. I began to question: What will my students take from this? Which experiences will lead them to self discovery? How will it impact their current lives and their lives in the future? Now, I think about those self-possessed and confident students in Pendleton when I develop programs for my students, and I ask myself, will this help give them context to better understand their place in the world?